LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens Review: the best one yet

From:Dean James 06/07/2016

Rather than coming out right at the release of the movie itself, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived at the perfect time for fans to not only relive the events of the movie, but do so with that signature LEGO style.


The Star Wars franchise braved the criticism of the prequel trilogy and delivered a smash hit, both critically and financially, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in December. Alongside the release of the film, a very lackluster playset for Disney Infinity 3.0 was released that was loosely based on the events, but now fans are getting the full experience they always wanted with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


Movie licensed games have become much less common in recent years, with the previous two generations being littered with mostly rushed movie tie-ins that are not very good. However, TT Games has managed to develop games from a number of different series like Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, and now they are returning to their LEGO roots with the Star Wars franchise.


Like it’s movie counterpart, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens mostly takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Rather than jumping right into the events that lead off the film though, they make an odd decision and revisit an event that was already in Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy with the Battle of Endor. While people will be anxious to jump straight into the new movie content, there is at least a really fun boss battle included with Emperor Palpatine, even if the entire chapter feels out of place.


Following this opening prologue, the game moves onto its 10 chapter long story recreation of The Force Awakens, which also includes a pretty short epilogue that ends on the same note as the movie. What has made the LEGO series of games from TT Games really fun to play over the years has been the level of detail they put into these experiences, which have reached a pinnacle here with the ability to focus on one singular film revolving around characters like Rey and Finn.


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In LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, for instance, a lot of the story from each movie that was brought into the game was cut out, which was also somewhat the case with LEGO Jurassic World. However, pretty much most any moment you can think of in The Force Awakens is represented in some fashion in this game, which is very impressive and a treat for Star Wars fans.


With following the exact story of the movie, the game offers a variety of different locations that are designed well enough to set them apart from one another. The game is still made up of LEGO, so you won’t expect the extravagant recreations of locations like you would see in the Star Wars Battlefront series, but it looks really good in action and is a great complement to the fast paced action that TT Games always delivers.


Throughout the game’s story mode, you will also find yourself in some small hub areas like the Millennium Falcon or Jakku. It may be a little disappointing to not have an open-world to explore coming off LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, but it really does fit the pacing of the game and never really suffers for it as a result.


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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also offers six additional side stories for you to play through in addition to the main story. These help to fill in some of the gap prior to the events of the movie itself, including missions based on Poe Dameron rescuing the fan favorite Admiral Ackbar and how Han Solo and Chewbacca actually captured the Rathtar’s that were aboard their ship in the movie. These really are a lot of fun and add more lore to the new non-expanded Star Wars universe, with promises of more like this coming as DLC in the future. The only disappointment is these can only be played by collecting gold bricks throughout the game, which will take some time to find, though it adds a lot of replayability to the game.


Beyond just bringing The Force Awakens to life in LEGO form, the game also utilizes actual voice clips from the movie as well, which they have done in most of their recent releases. This might sound like it would be a little jarring to hear the likes of Harrison Ford and company coming from little LEGO minifigures, but it fits so well here. What makes it even better is that they were able to return essentially the entire main cast for extra dialogue that is made just for the game. Where else can you ever expect to hear the actual Han Solo request “Wookiee cookies” for his pal Chewbacca but a LEGO game?


The sound mix for LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is nearly flawless throughout. A few of the LEGO games that have utilized voice clips from other sources have had little issues here and there with sound clips getting cut off by in-game audio, but thankfully that is not a problem here. The movie voices mesh very well with the game’s remixed variations of the movie’s soundtrack for a fantastic performance all around.


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The LEGO series of games has also played it relatively safe over the years in their gameplay with their simplicity and ease, though they are always a lot of fun. While this game certainly isn’t going to be any more difficult, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens bucks the trend of maintaining the status quo with a few new mechanics. The overall combat is as you would expect from the franchise, with a mix of lightsabers, other melee weapons, and blasters, but the latter is utilized in a neat way through what are known as blaster battles.


Found throughout the game, there are moments where your team of characters will get overwhelmed with enemies and you will be forced to crouch behind barriers. From here, you must utilize the cover to take down each of the enemies in third-person shooter style. Puzzles elements are also added into these to taken down the tougher enemies, though the lack of variety can make these start to feel a little repetitive the later you get into the game.


The base mechanic of each of the LEGO games has been to break objects and then build new ones to get pass obstacles, but now the game has introduced the Multi-Build system. Rather than just having one object you can build with LEGO bricks, you will often find yourself with the option of two or three different builds, which many times have to be done in the correct order to advance. Some of these extra builds are even just to access collectibles like minikits, so trying everything out is important.


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While not completely new to the series like the aforementioned mechanics, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens also brings back space battles, but this time the player has much more control. The flying sections in past games were essentially nothing more than on-rails shooters with very limited controls. There are still a number of sections where this is the case, which are still enjoyable, but what has been added are full 3D sections that feel like they are pulled straight out of the Rogue Squadron series. There’s not a lot of depth to these missions, as most of them involve just shooting down Tie Fighters or other ships, but it adds a new dimension to the game that almost could have been its own separate game mode as well.


The Verdict


Rather than coming out right at the release of the movie itself, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived at the perfect time for fans to not only relive the events of the movie, but do so with that signature LEGO style. Some elements of the gameplay are as you would always expect from the franchise, but the new multi-build and blast battle mechanics mix it up enough to make the very replayable LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens the best one yet.